The valley's most distinctive cultural celebration has designated a permanent place for itself on the calendar.

The Rama Vijay Fall Festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 12, only the second time the festival has been held at the same time during consecutive years. The festival had occurred at varying times in August, September and October, but now organizers say they are trying to accommodate the schedules of professional entertainers and precede chilly fall temperatures.This year's festival will be the sixth held at Spanish Fork's Hare Krishna Temple, 8630 S. State, a mile south of the city on U.S. 6. This year's slate of events is much the same as last year's.

The festival centers around "The Ramayana," the story of the struggle between King Rama - an incarnation of Indian spiritual leader Krishna - and the demon Ravanna, who captured Rama's wife, Sita.

The 5,000-year-old Indian tale revolves around the ages-old struggle between good and evil. Krishna's incarnation as Rama teaches lessons of the perfect ruler and of love and triumph over the odds, according to festival organizer Christine Warden, or Vai Bha Vi.

During Rama's attempt to recover his wife from the demon - whose headquarters are in the original Sri Lanka, the island of gold - he is aided by an army of monkeylike men, including Hanuman, another Indian spiritual leader.

Excerpts from "The Ramayana" will be acted out at 7:30 p.m., culminating in the burning of a 20-foot-tall, 10-headed effigy of Ravanna by fiery arrows shot by the actor portraying Rama. As the burning culminates, the drama climaxes with a fireworks display.

Activities at the temple start at 4 p.m. - including a rock concert, a vegetarian cooking contest, a professional puppet show, booths with authentic Indian wares, llama rides for children and displays of Indian, Hindu and Krishna lifestyles.

Visitors can join in the cooking contest if they bring food to prepare. However, organizers ask that the dishes be vegetarian, containing no onion, garlic, eggs, fish, meat or meat byproducts.

There will be a minimum charge for food, although some will be free after the cooking contest. The group receives its funding through the donations of its members and others, Warden said.

"It's something that the temple wants to put on," she said. "We certainly don't make any money off the festival."

Perhaps the largest attendance at the annual celebration comes from Brigham Young University students, many of whom take classes in Eastern religions or sociology, Warden said. Annually, the festivities attract between 400 to 500 people, but attendance has risen significantly in the '90s and the group is expecting nearly 1,000 this year.

Spanish Fork's Hare Krishna group runs its own radio station, KHQN (1480 AM) and Govinda's Vegetarian Buffet in Provo.

Those interested in more information about the group or the festival should contact the radio station, 798-3559, or Govinda's, 375-0404.

*****

(Additional information)

Festival schedule

All events for the seventh annual Rama Vijay Fall Festival, Saturday, Sept. 12, will be at the Spanish Fork Hare Krishna Temple, 8630 S. State.

- Rock concert: By the Krishnautix, 4 p.m.

- Puppet show: 4 p.m.

- Llama rides: 4 p.m.

- Dance and musical performances: 6 p.m.

- Vegetarian cooking contest: 6 p.m.

- Drama, "The Ramayana": 7:30 p.m.

- Fireworks display: Includes burning in effigy of the demon Ravanna with arrows, 8:30 p.m.